Stab Stitch Quilting

That's how I quilt, stab stitch, one stitch at a time. Never mastered the running stitch, this was how I was taught and it has worked for me for 38 years.

Way back in 1973 when I had a 2 year old and a 3 month old I decided I need to do something to keep me busy! Just joking! I had always wanted to make quilts. I was so lucky to have several of my Grandmother's quilts as a child and I still have them. I learned to sew and always loved fabric, making doll clothes and when I was about 10 my aunt took me under her wing and taught me to sew. My Mom was left-handed and it just was such a struggle for her to teach me how to sew or knit or crochet. So during the summers when my aunt lived in the cottage behind ours, she happily taught me how to sew.

Then in the fall of 1973 the Nova Scotia Museum offered a one day quilting workshop with Polly Greene. Just what I needed, I took the class and haven't stopped. In that one day we cut out and pieced a block, then we learned how to quilt it using the stab stitch method. Polly learned from her Mother when she was about 7, her Mother had learned to quilt when she was 7 (1914) in Lawrence, Massachusetts at a local department store who were giving quilting lessons to young girls. Polly is still stab stitching, still teaching others how to do it.


In between my thumb and forefinger is a small needle, usually a 10 or an 11 "between" that is my left hand. Underneath my Q-Snap frame is my right hand ready to pull the needle through, turn it and "stab" it back up through the quilt. My grade seven Home Ec teacher, Miss Clarke, would be so pleased with me as I use about 15"-18" length of thread. Any longer and it will tangle or knot and it's much quicker with a shorter length of thread. I have learned lots of tricks over the years and analyzed just how I quilt like this. There isn't much information on the internet. I have taught a lot of quilters over the years, it is such a great way to thimble, no stress or strain on your fingers.

Here are a few of my favourite things to use when I quilt. A Q-Snap frame, usually the 11" square one, Americana Quilting thread from Jo-Anns in the US. It is much like the old Lily quilting thread, 100% cotton with a silicone finish, Fons and Porter mechanical pencils are the best for marking. I have 2, one with wite lead and one with black lead. They mark easily and erase easily. My little Fiskars scissors and my needle nose pliers for pulling through the needle from stubborn spots where there are a lot of seams. Plastic templates, I make my own, keep them and reuse when I can.

The quilt in the pictures is a wedding signature quilt for the daughter (and her husband) of a dear friend. At their wedding everyone signed squares of fabrics with messages for the happy couple, then I pieced the quilt top. They haven't seen the quilt yet, the last stitch was put in today, now to get to the binding.

I'll be teaching Stab Stitch Quilting at Quilt Canada 2012 in Halifax, NS. Can't wait!